Atos, the IT services company, has partnered with the University of Derby Corporate (UDC) to set up the Atos Information Management Academy.

The academy, introduced in December 2011, is designed to help Atos employees and other IT professionals interested in information management gain a professional qualification while they work.

Topics covered by the course include personal development, data management and business intelligence (BI). In addition, students will be able to get hands-on experience of using BI and data management tools as part of the course.

Consultants from Atos' Information Management Practice deliver the course via classroom training sessions. Students will also have access to the university's online content, and content from e-learning courseware provider SkillSoft and Atos' major supplier partners.

It takes between six and nine months to complete the course, which includes three to four months comprising residential courses and work-based application. The course is the equivalent of half a final year of a degree.

So far, 12 Atos business technologists have completed the course. Between 50 and 100 graduates or IT professionals, with an interest in specialising in information management, are expected to take the course annually.

IT companies are becoming more and more involved in the development of courses that equip students with the business and soft skills - as well as the technical skills - they need to be ready for the workplace on graduation.

Sector skills council e-skills UK developed the Information Technology Management for Business (ITMB) degree in collaboration with more than 60 employers, including BT, HP and Logica for example.

The degree is designed to develop graduates who have the variety of technical, business and interpersonal skills to find employment at leading firms.

Meanwhile, HP recently launched an academic partnership programme, HP Institute, which also aims to equip students with business-ready IT skills.

The vendor aims to partner with UK schools, colleges and universities to deliver a curriculum that will improve the IT skills of more than 20,000 people over the next four years.